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Colors that Work Well Inside & Out

December 18, 2008

Currently I am working on a design project with over 75 designers on a showcase venture with multiple residences. There are 4 separate and diverse color palettes that the designers assigned to each residence have to incorporate. I had the luxury of sitting through an entire day of presentations for interior spaces as well exterior living areas. The talent pool is diverse as are the design concepts however their ability to utilize the same color palette in unique, exciting and inspiring ways is remarkable.

Another noteworthy fact is that all of the color palettes work equally as well inside and out. There seems to be no limit to the color selections for the outdoor room. Seamlessly transitioning from the interior to the outside is truly becoming easier than ever before.

The one constant in all of the color palettes is the use of a neutral color. This color is a safe haven that lends itself to a feeling of security and stability. In one palette, the color Aegean Sea and Chocolate are combined with the neutral color of Alabaster. In another palette, Fuchsia and Paprika are joined by the addition of the neutral Sand color. A third grouping merges Cinnamon and Glacier with the neutral hue Bone. Lastly, Kiwi, and Plum coalesce with the new neutral Pewter. These are all colors and color combinations that we have seen outside, it is nice to know how well they work indoor.

Obviously the color Blue, Teal, Aegean Sea, and Glacier represent the outdoor sky and sea so they have always fit nicely in the outdoor room. Kiwi represents plant life, which is also found outdoors. The use of neutrals as a base is a design concept that has been embraced indoors for as long as I can remember. Add the pop of color, or one focal point; an area rug,  or put the color into drapes or accent throw pillows. Perhaps select one large piece of furniture to showcase a color and keep everything else in the neutral tones. There is a multitude of ways to use the color in a design concept.

For your showroom or selling floor, it is my recommendation to utilize a number of different design concepts on vignettes to best represent all the possibilities that you can offer to your clientele. Perhaps on one vignette, use the neutral for the larger pieces of outdoor furniture and use the colors in tabletop accents, or throw pillows and throw blankets. In another vignette, place the focal color on the largest piece of furniture, perhaps also in the area rug and then use neutral tones on walls, and accessories as well as accent furniture. A third idea, would be to apply all of the colors in the palette to a few different patterned fabrics, use one on a club chair, another on an additional club chair, then a solid pick of any one of the colors in the palette on the sofa. Then keep the surroundings neutral as in floor and walls, drapes and pillows. The more design ideas that you can impart to your customers while they walk your floor the greater the possibilities that they feel you provide.

The wonderful thing about decorating outdoor areas is that the outdoor fabric manufacturers are providing us with absolutely wonderful designs, colors and textures that most people confuse with interior fabrics. Take advantage of the colorful textured fabric offerings available and create inspired designs in your showroom.

These are my outside views…Marcia Blake